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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Death of Ginny Chung

Chung 2Ginny Chung, Acting Deputy International Tax Counsel at the Treasury Department, died of colon cancer last Saturday at the age of 43.  From her Washington Post obituary:

She earned her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College, her JD from Emory University, and a Master of Laws in Taxation from Georgetown University. Ginny spent all of her professional life working for the United States Government, first for the IRS and most recently serving as the Acting Deputy International Tax Counsel for the Department of the Treasury. ...

Ginny is survived by her husband Aaron King; two children [ages 5 and 10]; her parents George and Grace Chung of New Jersey; and sister Christine Chung of London.

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November 12, 2014 in IRS News, Obituaries, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 552

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November 12, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 551

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal:  At Last, a Chance to Get to the Bottom of the IRS Mess, by Cleta Mitchell (Foley & Lardner, Washington, D.C.):

The day after Republicans won solid majorities in the House and Senate, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader-to-be Mitch McConnell outlined priorities for the newly elected Congress. High on the list is fundamental tax reform. In addition to overhauling the federal tax code, however, Congress should rein in the Internal Revenue Service.

Much has already been learned about the arrogance of the IRS from the House investigations of the agency’s targeting of conservatives. The revelations emerged despite strenuous efforts by Democrats in Washington and by the IRS itself to block inquiries and deny the existence of political targeting—targeting that the former head of the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit, Lois Lerner, eventually acknowledged and apologized for in May 2013.

Bringing the IRS to heel can start with re-energizing and expanding congressional investigations and holding accountable those responsible for the targeting and other abuses. To serve notice that the IRS’s thumbing of its nose at Congress by ignoring multiple congressional subpoenas will no longer be tolerated, the House GOP Steering Committee should elect Rep. Jim Jordan as the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (where current chairman Darrell Issa is term-limited). ...

Since 2012, House investigators have been subjected to an IRS rope-a-dope game by the refusal of the agency and various officials to respond to subpoenas or to answer questions fully and forthrightly. The House should now reissue the subpoenas that will expire at the end of this Congress and proceed to federal court to enforce all outstanding subpoenas previously issued to the IRS and its personnel during the course of the investigations.

More important, the House should ask the federal courts to enforce its May 2014 contempt resolution against Ms. Lerner for refusing to answer questions from Congress about her role in the targeting of conservatives. It is clear that the Obama Justice Department has willfully failed to file an enforcement proceeding in federal court. There also are strong separation-of-powers arguments against allowing the executive branch to unilaterally disregard congressional disciplinary actions taken against an executive-branch official like Ms. Lerner for refusing to testify before Congress.

Beyond all this, Republicans now have the opportunity to expand their inquiries into other areas of IRS misconduct. ... As Congress shines a light on these and other unacceptable IRS practices, public support for fundamental tax reform will only increase. The new Republican-controlled Congress will thus have a rare opportunity to overhaul a tax policy and a tax-collecting agency that both desperately need it.

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November 11, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Former IRS Agent Settles Religious Discrimination Claim Over Firing for Wearing Ceremonial Dagger to Work

Following up on my prior posts (links below):  Houston Chronicle, Former IRS Worker, U.S. Reach Agreement in Ritual Dagger Case:

TagoreIn what her lawyers called a "historic settlement," former Houston IRS worker Kawaljeet Tagore and the U.S. government this week reached an agreement in a lawsuit stemming from the Sikh woman's dismissal for insisting on wearing a 3-inch ceremonial dagger sacred to her faith to work.

The settlement announced Thursday expunges Tagore's firing from her record, allows her to enter federal buildings with the blade for a period of three years and awards her lawyers $400,000 for fees and expenses. Tagore, 41, will be barred from seeking re-employment with the IRS, but may seek work with other federal agencies.

Tagore, 41, who currently works as a self-employed tax consultant, filed the lawsuit in 2009.

Houston lawyer Scott Newar, who worked with attorneys from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said the case prompted Federal Protective Services to acknowledge for the first time that wearing the blade, known as a "kirpan," is protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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November 10, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 550

IRS Logo 2Washington Examiner:  Congress' To-do List: Major Unsolved Scandals Top the List for New U.S. Congress:

The pending 114th Congress needs to dig into some serioius issues without delay because they are concerns that the Democratic Senate led by Sen. Harry Reid refused to investigate during the most recent Senate. ...

The IRS scandal that still leaves many stones unturned. While persons in the Obama administration have been investigating to a small degree, there is obvious a need to conduct more of an investigation into this concern. The assertions of lost emails by persons involved, such as Lois Lerner, is still unsettled. ...

Needless to say, the IRS scandal remains and has not settled well with Americans who want to know the truth. After all, targeting conservative groups prior to the 2010 election when the Democrats fared well, wasn’t right. Naturally, the whole truth needs come out, and those who were involved need to be held accountable – and punished as need be.

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November 10, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 549

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial:  Overseeing Obama:

Election Day is over. But if Americans ever hope to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal, they’ll be hoping for victory in a more obscure campaign. The House Republican leadership will soon select the next chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In a crowded field, Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) is the candidate best equipped to conduct thorough and credible investigations of federal waste, fraud and abuse. ...

Current Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa is stepping down due to GOP term limits for committee heads. Mr. Jordan has done as much as anyone to shine a light on IRS abuse of the President’s philosophical opponents, both in hearings and behind the scenes.

More than a year before the public learned the name of Lois Lerner, Mr. Jordan was seeking answers from the IRS’s tax-exempt organizations chief on political targeting allegations. He then requested an inspector general’s audit at the Treasury Department. Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer representing various IRS targeting victims, tells us that if not for Mr. Jordan there would have been no Treasury investigation “and no public admission that, indeed, conservative groups were being subjected to unprecedented scrutiny and mistreatment.” ...

Speaker John Boehner and other members of the elected GOP House leadership should elevate Mr. Jordan and send a clear message of reform and accountability.

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November 9, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 548

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  What If Lois Lerner Was Right About The Tea Party?, by Peter J. Reilly:

The e-mails I have been getting from Jenny Beth Martin, Chairman of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, have me thinking about Lois Lerner and  Teapartygate.  I went back and took another look at a report prepared by the staff of Darrell Issa’s Committee on Oversight and Government.  The report is titled Lois Lerner’s Involvement in the IRS Targeting of Tax-Exempt Organizations.  It is well worth reading the whole report and I recommend it.  I still don’t think it adds up to some sort of crusade against conservatives, but that’s just me. You can read it yourself. It seems that Lerner was strongly against money in politics and sensitive to the criticism that IRS was letting 501(c)(4) organizations get away with too much political activity.  And along comes the Tea Party, which Lerner sees as “very dangerous”.

One GD thing after another and now we are on Day 542 of the IRS Scandal, by TaxProf count, with no end in sight. Here is the question that is troubling me right now thanks to the e-mails I have been getting from Jenny Beth Martin.  If there is a pretty compelling case that Tea Party Patriots Inc was intended from day 1 to be a political organization, rather than a social welfare organization, would that make any difference in how we view Lois Lerner? ...

The IRS has to collect over two trillion dollars, which is a pretty big job, so it would be better if it did not get caught up in side issues.  Still Lois Lerner was in charge of exempt organizations and there are rules that the IRS was accused of ignoring.  There is a lot of diversity in the grassroots Tea Party groups, but I have a hard time seeing the self proclaimed flagship as anything but a political organization based on how it has been behaving lately.  Does that make the scandal any more or less scandalous?  What do you think?

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November 8, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, November 7, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 547

IRS Logo 2Legal Insurrection:  Judicial Watch:  IRS “Did Not Undertake Any Significant Efforts to Obtain” Missing Lerner Emails:

Democrats who had hoped for at least a week to sleep off their election night hangovers are getting no rest after the latest disclosure of court documents by advocacy group Judicial Watch.

Judicial Watch has spent a great deal of time and resources seeking information about the IRS targeting of conservative groups.

In September, Judicial Watch asked the court for permission to conduct discovery into how “lost and/or destroyed” records might be recovered; the IRS is fighting transparency efforts, but their latest response to the discovery request contains inconsistencies that could pull the rug out from under IRS officials responsible for the cover up.

Via Judicial Watch:

Judicial Watch lawyers reviewed the IRS court filings and concluded that the agency “did not undertake any significant efforts to obtain the emails.”

IRS attorneys conceded that they had failed to search the agency’s servers for missing emails because they decided that “the servers would not result in the recovery of any information.” They admitted they had failed to search the agency’s disaster recovery tapes because they had “no reason to believe that the tapes are a potential source of recovering” the missing emails. And they conceded that they had not searched the government-wide back-up system because they had “no reason to believe such a system … even exists.”

But what’s this? The inconvenient truth, documented for all time courtesy of court filings? [Emphasis in bold mine:]

The IRS admitted to Judge Sullivan that the agency failed to “submit declarations about any of the foregoing items because it had no reason to believe that they were sources from which to recover information lost as a result of Lerner’s hard drive failure.” [Emphasis added] Department of Justice attorneys for the IRS had previously told Judicial Watch that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe. The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search. In the October federal court filing, the IRS does not deny that the government-wide back-up system exists, and acknowledges to the court that 760 other email “servers” have been discovered but had not been searched.

The IRS also refuses to disclose the names of the IRS officials who may have information about the IRS scandal, citing unspecified threats. The IRS says it pulled documents about the scandal from various employees into a “Congressional database” and that it has only searched this one “database” for missing records. Incredibly, the IRS has not searched any of the IRS’s regular computer systems for any missing records and admits that it has only searched a “database” that it knows does not contain the missing records being sought by the court, Judicial Watch, and Congress.

After two years of fighting, it has become clear to the attorneys at Judicial Watch and to the public that this administration is not interested in transparency as to the IRS targeting of conservatives.

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November 7, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

TIGTA: Inadequate Inventory Controls Over Employee Mobile Devices Cost IRS Millions

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released Wireless Telecommunication Device Inventory Control Weaknesses Resulted in Inaccurate Inventory Records and Unsupported Service Fees (2014-10-075):

In Fiscal Year 2013, the IRS spent more than $13.7 million on wireless telecommunication devices and maintained an inventory of more than 49,000 devices reported as being in use. Effective controls over the assignment of and inventory accounting for these devices is important to ensure proper stewardship of Government funds.

TIGTA’s previous work found that IRS processes for assigning and monitoring the use of devices were not adequate to ensure that employees have a business need for the devices. In addition, prior work found that the IRS paid for thousands of devices that were unused. The overall objective of this review was to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the IRS’s inventory control for wireless aircards, cellular phones, and BlackBerry® smartphone devices.

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November 6, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 546

IRS Logo 2Forbes, IRS Memo Claims Forbes Story Influenced Tax Exempt Decision Involving Billionaire, by Janet Novack:

A newly uncovered Internal Revenue Service memo lends support to billionaire investor Peter R. Kellogg’s claim that the IRS tax exempt division may have improperly taken press coverage –and specifically a Forbes cover story–into account before making a decision that cost him a bundle.

Kellogg K +0.22% and IAT Reinsurance Co. Ltd, the Bermuda-based insurance company his family owns, are suing the IRS for refunds of $186 million in taxes and interest they paid after the IRS revoked IAT’s qualification as a tax exempt 501(c)(15) insurance company retroactively. The lead of a March 2001 Forbes cover story on the proliferation of edgy tax shelters exposed Kellogg’s use of IAT to shield hundreds of millions in capital gains from tax. At that time, promoters were pushing the 501(c)(15) ploy to small business owners, particularly car dealers, as a tax shelter. After the Forbes story appeared, the IRS listed the Producer Owned Reinsurance Company (PORC) as a potentially abusive tax shelter and began an enforcement project.

The surprising IRS memo is disclosed in filings in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims where Kellogg and the government are battling over whether internal IRS documents and IRS officials’ thought processes and motivations are subject to discovery and can be used as evidence in his refund suits. The memo, a January 2010 Appeals Case Memorandum (ACM) from three IRS appeals officers, argues the IRS should reconsider the Technical Advice Memoranda (TAMs) that retroactively revoked IAT’s tax exemption and that of another Kellogg owned insurance company.

The ACM asserts that originally the TAMs were favorable to Kellogg and that then Tax Exempt Commissioner Steven Miller was persuaded “to go adverse because of the ramifications” to the PORC project “to no-change the very taxpayer (Kellogg) that started this project because of the Forbes article.” The memo adds: “We believe a `fresh-look’ is needed as to the facts of these cases in applying the laws as is without regard to the outside publicity.’’

Miller went on to become Acting IRS Commissioner and resigned from the agency in May 2013 amid the ongoing controversy over IRS targeting of Tea Party and certain other groups for extra scrutiny in the tax exemption process. Internal IRS documents suggest that Tea Party groups were first flagged because of media attention to political groups’ use of the 501(c)(4) exemption. Lois Lerner, a central figure in the exempt scandal who has been held in contempt of Congress by the Republican controlled House, was particularly sensitive to criticism that the IRS was letting 501(c)(4) organizations get away with too much political activity.

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November 6, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 545

IRS Logo 2Breitbart:  Read: Jeanne Shaheen-IRS Memos on Conservative Group Targeting:

The IRS memos to and from incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) indicate she was involved in the actual investigative activities targeting Tea Partiers.

The memos, obtained by Breitbart News and published here, show a series of letters Shaheen and other Democratic Senators exchanged with then IRS commissioner Doug Shulman and then IRS deputy commissioner for services and enforcement Steven Miller—not just the one memo published by The Daily Caller’s Patrick Howley late Monday evening right before the election.

The memos are responses to two different letters Shaheen and a whole group of Democrats such as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Al Franken (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Tom Udall (D-NM), among others. The responses are directed specifically to Shaheen, seemingly indicating that she was the point person for the Senate Democrats’ efforts to leverage the IRS into targeting conservative and Tea Party groups. ...

The letters Shaheen and her Democratic colleagues sent to the IRS have long been public, but the detailed responses from the IRS to her are brand new—and came out just before the election. They seem to indicate that Shaheen was kept apprised of, and was involved in, the intricate layers of the IRS targeting of Tea Partiers—which has since been widely panned in the wake of several congressional investigations. Basically, the fact that Democratic senators – especially Shaheen – were deeply involved in the targeting scandal has always been suspected but never confirmed—until now.

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November 5, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pittsburgh IRS Agent Tried to Bribe Police After Being Arrested at Steelers Game

CBS Pittsburgh,  Police: Man Arrested For Kicking Heinz Field Barriers, Trying To Bribe Officers:

A man was arrested after injuring a woman by kicking a steel barrier at Heinz Field Sunday evening. According to police, 29-year-old Stephen Sapp was intoxicated at the time of the incident. ...

Sapp sustained some cuts in the struggle [with police] and was transported to UPMC Mercy Hospital for treatment. While at the hospital, Sapp allegedly tried to bribe officers to let him go. According to the criminal complaint, Sapp stated, “Listen, I know how this works. How much money will it take to make this go away and to let me go home today?”

The officers informed Sapp that he could not attempt to bribe them, but Sapp continued. “Look, I am an IRS agent and I can help you in other ways if you let me go home and make this go away.”

WTAE, IRS Confirms Worker Arrested at Heinz Field; Police: Stephan Sapp Kicked Out of Steelers Game, Gets Violent, Offers Bribe

November 4, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 544

IRS Logo 2Recent filings in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Judicial Watch v. IRS, No. 13-1559-EGS:

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November 4, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 3, 2014

District Court Refuses to Dismiss Suspended Practitioner's Lawsuit Against IRS Office of Professional Responsibility

IRS Logo 2In press reports last month, Karen Hawkins, Director of the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility ("OPR"), was quoted as saying that although she first "laughed" at the argument in Sexton v. Hawkins that OPR lacked jurisdiction over a suspended practitioner (a tax lawyer with a tax LL.M.), after  Ridgely v. Lew (more here) "there are some judges out there that would buy that now."  Last Thursday, the Federal District Court in Nevada rejected the Government's motion to dismiss Sexton's complaint againt the OPR.   Sexton v. Hawkins, No. 2:13-cv-00893 (D NV Oct. 30, 2014).

November 3, 2014 in IRS News, New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 543

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 542

IRS Logo 2Press Release:  Wetumpka TEA Party Continues Call for Accountability After Unacceptable IRS Court Ruling:

AL-Becky Gerritson, President of the Wetumpka TEA Party, called Thursday's US District Court’s ruling to dismiss two lawsuits against the IRS by dozens of TEA Parties and other conservative groups , “outrageous” .

The IRS’s targeting of conservatives first came to the public’s attention in May of 2013, when Lois Lerner, then head of the IRS’s Tax Exempt Office, tried to minimize the seriousness of their despicable action when she answered a planted question from the audience while speaking to the American Bar Association. The targeting of conservatives began in 2009 and reached its height during the 2012 election cycle. Some conservative groups have still not received their well-deserved tax exempt status even to this day. In 2013 the Wetumpka TEA Party along with 40 other conservative groups filed a law suit with the American Center for Law and Justice, (ACLJ) against the IRS for its illegal targeting of conservatives.

“When you look at the allegations in our lawsuit along with evidence uncovered by Congressional committees and Judicial Watch, it is undeniable that the IRS is guilty of wrongdoing. However, Judge Walton basically said that since we finally received our tax status (after almost 2 years of waiting) that we now have no case. That’s like a judge telling a burglary victim, that even though she was robbed 2 years ago; since she does not currently have the thieves in her house, she has no case. This ruling is unbelievable! It’s so much more than just a delay of a tax exempt status; it’s about the IRS, a government agency, being used as a weapon against its citizens, i.e. violating our constitutional rights, invading our privacy, bullying and intimidating us, mishandling and leaking our confidential taxpayer information etc., not to mention the ensuing cover-up; and we cannot fight back…we have no recourse.”

Gerritson continued, “The judge did not base his decision on the merits of the case. In fact, he did not deny wrong doing by the IRS but dismissed the case on procedural grounds. He wrote in a footnote: "The court's opinion should not be interpreted as an assessment of the propriety of the alleged conduct by the defendants." It’s unfathomable that the IRS, one of the most feared government agencies in America, was able to engage in a massive, years-long illegal targeting scheme against everyday American’s and get away with it scot-free. This is a huge blow to Americans’ liberty. If the IRS was allowed to target and harass Americans on such a large scale with no repercussions then what will stop them in the future?”

Gerritson concluded by saying, “This isn’t over for us. We will not be silent. We commend and support the ACLJ‘s plan to appeal the ruling. We will continue to do everything we can to stand up for citizens’ rights, expose government’s abuse of power and hold them accountable for their actions.”

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November 2, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

WSJ: How to Use a 401k to Pump Up a Roth IRA

Roth IRAWall Street Journal, How to Pump Up a Roth IRA: After-Tax Contributions to a 401(k) Plan Can Be Shifted Into a Tax-Free Roth, the IRS Says:

High-income earners have a new incentive to make after-tax contributions to a 401(k) plan: They can later shift those contributions into a Roth individual retirement account, tax-free.

Thanks to a recent Internal Revenue Service ruling [Notice 2014-54], eligible employees can now move after-tax contributions directly from their employer-sponsored retirement plan to a Roth account.

The potential tax savings are huge, depending on an investor’s tax rate in retirement. ... The latest decision gives people an easier way to distinguish pre- and after-tax contributions and maximize their potential tax savings. That could make it much easier for investors to move tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars they have had accumulating in their 401(k)s into a Roth IRA.

November 1, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 541

IRS Logo 2Press Release:  ACLJ Files Suit Against IRS For Failing To Release Records Between IRS And U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen Of New Hampshire Who Demanded IRS Probe Conservative Organizations:

The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) today filed a federal lawsuit in New Hampshire against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on behalf of the group, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, claiming the IRS is unlawfully delaying the release of records between the IRS and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) who demanded the IRS investigate conservative organizations for engaging in "political activities."

Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) demanding the IRS release the correspondence between the tax agency and Sen. Shaheen and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01). The lawsuit was filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, in Concord, NH. The lawsuit contends the IRS is unlawfully delaying the release of information until after next week's mid-term elections – a move that the complaint argues "has deprived Strong NH of the opportunity to obtain and effectively convey to the voting public vital information about those seeking re-election."

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November 1, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, October 31, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 540

IRS Logo 2Legal Times:  IRS Official Fights Video Depo, Citing Fear of Harassment:

An Internal Revenue Service employee caught up in the controversy over tax-exempt groups wants a federal judge to block a subpoena for her videotaped testimony. The official, Holly Paz, cites privacy and safety fears.

A group that applied for tax-exempt status in 2012, Citizen Awareness Project Inc., sued the agency in Colorado federal district court, claiming officials wrongfully released its application to the media. Federal officials admitted there was an “unauthorized disclosure,” but they disagreed it was willful or that the group was entitled to damages.

In a 2013 report, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that IRS officials had improperly flagged organizations perceived to have conservative or Tea Party ties for additional scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status. The Colorado lawsuit is focused on the disclosure issue, not the broader scandal. However, the plaintiff claimed that because of a media report about its application, the group may have been subjected to additional scrutiny by the IRS—an allegation the government denied.

Paz served as the agency’s director of exempt organizations rulings and agreements. She isn’t a defendant in the Colorado case, but lawyers for Citizen Awareness Project subpoenaed her to provide videotaped deposition testimony on Oct. 28.

In court papers filed on Oct. 23 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Paz’s lawyers at Steptoe & Johnson LLP asked for an order barring the deposition from being videotaped. Alternatively, they've asked for an order that would keep any videotaped deposition confidential.

Steptoe partner Brigida Benitez wrote that after Paz’s name became publicly associated with the larger IRS scandal, she faced “continued harassment, oppression and intimidation, including threats of bodily harm to her and her family, including her young children.”

Paz didn’t object to testifying, Benitez wrote, but she feared that a video of her speaking, if publicly disclosed, could be used “as another means of harassment and intimidation.”

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October 31, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

IRS Releases 2015 Inflation Adjustments

IRS Logo 2The IRS has released various inflation-adjustments for 2015 (IR 2014-104 & Rev. Proc. 2014-61; IR 2014-99), including:

  • Gift Tax Exemption:  $14,000 (same as 2014)
  • Unified Credit:  $5,430,000 (up $90,000 from 2014)
  • Top 39.6% Income Tax Rate:  $413,200 single/$464,850 joint (up $6,450/$7,250 from 2014)
  • Standard Deduction:  $6,300 single/$12,600 joint (up $100/$200  from 2014)
  • Personal Exemption:  $4,000 (up $50 from 2014)
  • AMT Exemption:  $53,600 single/$83,400 joint (up $800/$1,300 from 2014)
  • Contribution Limit for 401(k)/403(b)/457 Plans:  $18,000 (up $500 from 2014)
  • Catch-Up Contribution Limit (Age 50+) for 401(k)/403(b)/457 Plans:  $6,000 (up $500 from 2014)
  • Income Limit for Full IRA Deduction:  $61,000 single/$98,000 joint (up $1,000/$2,000 from 2014)
  • Income Limit for Full Roth IRA Contribution:  $116,000 single/$183,000 joint (up $2,000 from 2014)
  • Defined Benefit Plan Annual Benefit Limit:  $215,000 (up $5,000 from 2014)

October 30, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 539

IRS Logo 2Investor's Business Daily editorial:  IRS Is A Unique Troublemaker Among Federal Agencies:

It's also been used as a political weapon. President Obama may owe his 2012 re-election to the IRS, which blocked the formation of groups that opposed him.

The IRS-Tea Party scandal entered Day 536 on Monday by the TaxProf blog's count, and it appears that the scandal will go on much longer without resolution.

Bob Woodward suggests that the media investigate it as it did Watergate. We laud his bravery. He's opened himself up to attacks from two vicious and unaccountable adversaries: the IRS and the mainstream media.

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October 30, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

IRS: Ebola Is a Qualified Disaster

EbolaIR-2014-102, IRS Announces Tax Guidance Related to Ebola Outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone:

The Internal Revenue Service today issued two items of guidance in response to the need for charitable and other relief due to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. One provides special relief intended to support leave-based donation programs to aid victims who have suffered from the Ebola outbreak in those countries. The other designates the Ebola outbreak in those countries as a qualified disaster for federal tax purposes.

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October 29, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 538

IRS Logo 2National Review:  The Tea Party Isn’t Giving Up Against the IRS, by Mark Meckler (Founder, Sue the IRS):

Thursday, Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia dismissed almost all counts in two major lawsuits brought by conservative groups against the IRS.

So why would Judge Walton — a George W. Bush appointee — make this decision?

Believe it or not, he says that claims for injunctive relief are moot because there is “no reasonable expectation” that the IRS would continue to target conservative organizations based on their viewpoint.

But this defies what we know to be true. The IRS has repeatedly insisted its actions were for “tax-administration purposes” and were otherwise legitimate functions to determine the groups’ tax-exempt status. The IRS has concealed evidence, obscured facts, and — evidence shows — still harassed conservative groups after their scheme was revealed

Judge Walton also missed the mark by dismissing the claims against the IRS for its unauthorized inspection and disclosure of taxpayer information. In reaching his decision, Judge Walton embraced a flimsy dichotomy promoted by the IRS that distinguishes between an improper acquisition of taxpayer information and an improper inspection of the information. By focusing on how the information was obtained, Judge Walton failed to consider or appreciate the actual reasons IRS employees inspected the taxpayer information. Although inspecting an application for tax exemption may be lawful for some IRS employees, it certainly was not lawful for those employees whose inspections occurred because of unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.

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October 29, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

District Court Dismisses AICPA's Challenge to IRS's Voluntary Tax Return Preparer Program for Lack of Standing

RTRPThe Washington, D.C. District Court yesterday dismissed the American Institute of CPAs' challenge to the IRS's Voluntary Tax Return Preparer Program on standing grounds.  American Institute of Certified Public Accountants v. IRS, No. 14-1190 (D.C. D.C. Oct. 27, 2014).  For more, see Accounting Today, Fuller Tax Blog and Law 360.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

(Hat Tip: John Treu.)

October 28, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Revolving Door Enriches Former IRS Officials Who Cash in by Navigating Inversions Through Rules They Wrote

Bloomberg:  Tax Inversions Succeed When Government Lawyers Go Private, by Zachary R. Mider:

Revolving DoorHal Hicks cleared his throat and addressed a roomful of peers in a midtown Manhattan auditorium. The topic: the tax-avoidance technique called inversion, in which a U.S. company claims a foreign legal address.

Waving his hands back and forth as if tracing a pendulum’s swing, Hicks explained how four government attacks over three decades had failed to stop the practice. “There’s been lots of law thrown at these transactions,” he said at the January session.

Hicks ought to know. He was the one doing the throwing, during four years as a top government tax lawyer. Then, he returned to private practice and helped set in motion a spree of inversions that a congressional panel estimates will cost at least $19.5 billion in lost tax revenue over the next decade.

Hicks epitomizes the world of high-level Washington lawyers who have played a behind-the-scenes role in helping these tax-driven address changes proliferate. Top federal tax officials, many of them career corporate lawyers, have sometimes closed loopholes only after companies slipped through them. And former officials like Hicks use skills and contacts honed in office to help companies legally outmaneuver the government.  

Until this year, when address-shifting by more than a dozen companies worth $100 billion caught policy makers’ attention and President Barack Obama clamped down again, inversion rules had for a decade attracted little notice outside the small community of international tax lawyers in Washington.

At the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service, officials, many on hiatus from private practice, crafted the rules in dialogue with top corporate law and accounting firms.

While some European nations have historically relied on career civil servants, the top ranks of the U.S. tax administration have swapped staff with industry for decades.

It’s a low-cost way to provide government with the best legal talent, said Gregory Jenner, a former acting assistant Treasury secretary, who calls it an “incredibly beneficial tradition.”

“Putting rookies into these jobs -- they would be overwhelmed,” Jenner said. “It’s too high-level, too sophisticated, too complicated.”

The risk, critics say, is that some government lawyers may continue to sympathize with corporate interests, or be swayed by former colleagues. ...

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October 28, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, October 27, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 536

IRS Logo 2The Atlantic:  The House GOP's New War on Incompetence: The Republicans Want to Overhaul Scandal-Plagued Federal Agencies in 2015, the Majority Leader Says:

House Republicans haven't officially locked down their majority for next year, but they're already sketching out a legislative agenda for when they do.

In a memo to lawmakers on Wednesday, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the party would target the federal bureaucracy with an eye toward restoring "competence" across a range of scandal-plagued departments and agencies. He cited the well-documented problems at the Veterans Administration, the Secret Service, the IRS, last year's launch of the federal health insurance exchanges, and the more recent response to Ebola, along with several other missteps that haven't garnered as much attention.

Real Time with Bill Maher Blog:  Tax the Charities:

Obama’s IRS "scandal” comes down to whether Tea Party groups should pay taxes or not, and the angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin distinction between an organization that raises money for politicians and one that “promotes social welfare.” (… by raising money for politicians.) One has to pay taxes and one doesn’t. ...

The simple solution is to stop asking the IRS to make value judgments about what’s a legitimate charity called “Patriots for the Violent Overthrow of the Negro Usurper” and what’s just a family sex party, like the kind the Palins would crash. Make them all pay taxes.

Washington Post:  Obama, The Bewildered Bystander, by Charles Krauthammer:

The president is upset. Very upset. Frustrated and angry. Seething about the government's handling of Ebola, said the front-page headline in The New York Times last Saturday.

There's only one problem with this pose, so obligingly transcribed for him by the Times. It's his government. He's president. Has been for six years. Yet Barack Obama reflexively insists on playing the shocked outsider when something goes wrong within his own administration.

IRS? “It's inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it,” he thundered in May 2013 when the story broke of the agency targeting conservative groups. “I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS.”

Except that within nine months, Obama had grown far more tolerant, retroactively declaring this to be a phony scandal without “a smidgen of corruption.”

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October 27, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 535

IRS Logo 2The Hill:  GOP: Majority Would ‘Get to Truth’ on IRS:

Republicans vow to put the clamps on the IRS if they sweep to power in November.

GOP lawmakers and aides believe that House-passed legislation to limit the IRS’s reach would have a better shot at making it to President Obama’s desk if Republicans win control of the Senate on Nov. 4.

Full Republican control of Congress would give the GOP added leverage over the IRS, doubling the panel’s oversight of an agency that drew conservative ire by improperly scrutinizing Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status.

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October 26, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 534

IRS Logo 2Letter From Dave Camp (Chair, House Ways & Means Committee) to Jacob Lew (Secretary, U.S. Treasury Department) (Oct. 22, 2014):

Some of the key questions remaining in the investigation into the IRS' targeting of conservatives groups are: who at the White House knew what was going on; when did they know it; and, what action did they take upon learning about it? Your office is now refusing to make available until after the election the very person that could unlock that mystery. This is completely unacceptable , especially for an Administration that once pledged to be the most open and transparent ever.

On September 16, 20 14, five weeks ago, I first requested that you make available for an interview Hannah Stott-Bumstead, a Treasury Department counsel, who, based on transcribed interviews ofIRS perso1mel, appears to be the first person at Treasmy to be told by the IRS that it had lost Lois Lerner's emails. Notwithstanding President Obama 's pledge to "work with Congress as it performs its oversight role ...[a]nd...make sure that we are working hand in hand with Congress to get this thing fixed," to date your Department has refused to allow the Committee to directly question Ms. Stott-Bumstead. 1 In addition to reiterating my request to interview Ms. Stott-Bumstead without delay, I am requesting additional information about what Ms. Stott-Bumstead and others at Treasury did with this information, including how the White House was informed, and why the decision was made to not infonn Congress until months later.

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October 25, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, October 24, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 533

IRS Logo 2USA Today:  Tea Party Loses Court Battle Over Targeting to IRS:

A federal court dismissed two lawsuits against the Internal Revenue Service Thursday, ruling that the tax agency is no longer targeting conservative tax-exempt groups for greater scrutiny.

True the Vote v. IRS Ruling

Linchpins of Liberty v. IRS

"Unless an actual, ongoing controversy exists in this case, this court is without power to decide it," U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton ruled, dismissing one lawsuit brought by True the Vote, a conservative vote-monitoring organization.

True the Vote, an offshoot of the Tea Party-affiliated King Street Patriots, had its application as a social welfare group help up because the IRS suspected it was engaging in direct political election campaigning, which is forbidden under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code. IRS agents found that its web site contained "Democratic attacks and Republican/conservative response," according to confidential IRS documents obtained by USA TODAY. 

Walton said the IRS has assured the public that they're no longer screening applications for tax exemptions based on its political leanings, a practice that led to the dismissal of several top IRS officials when it was disclosed by Treasury inspectors last year.

"Thus, the allegedly unconstitutional governmental conduct, which had delayed the processing of the plaintiffs' tax-exempt applications and spawned this litigation, is no longer impacting the plaintiffs," Walton said in a second opinion dismissing a lawsuit brought by Linchpins of Liberty and 40 other groups in 22 states. ...

In a footnote, the judge did leave open the possibility that two groups -- Patriots Educating Concerned Americans Now of Redding, Calif. and the suburban Cincinnati Liberty Township Tea Party -- could still sue because the IRS failed to rule on their tax exemption application within 270 days. The judge gave the IRS 14 days to argue why that element of the lawsuit cannot go forward.

Because he dismissed the lawsuits on procedural grounds, Walton did not rule on the merits of the case. He wrote in a footnote: "The court's opinion should not be interpreted as an assessment of the propriety of the alleged conduct by the defendants."

True the Vote:  Press Release:

"The Court today correctly acknowledged that the IRS targeted True the Vote because of its perceived political beliefs," True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “Such conduct is reprehensible and should never be acceptable in a free society. Despite this critical finding, we are stunned and disappointed in the court’s ruling which nevertheless dismisses our case. We will be evaluating our legal options and will announce our intent in that regard soon.”

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October 24, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Whistleblowers: IRS Officials Behind ‘Fraudulent’ Multi-Billion Dollar Corporate Tax Giveaways

IRS Whistleblower (2014)Raw Story:  Whistleblowers: IRS Officials Behind ‘Fraudulent’ Multi-Billion Dollar Corporate Tax Giveaways:

A 10-year veteran IRS attorney has demanded a Congressional audit of the IRS to investigate the agency’s alleged role in allowing American corporations to illegally avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes at the same time the agency is cracking down on individuals and small businesses.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, IRS commissioner John A. Koskinen, and IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, Jane J. Kim, an attorney in the IRS Office of the Chief Counsel in New York, accused IRS executives of “deliberately” facilitating multi-billion dollar tax giveaways. The letter, dated October 19, will add further pressure on the agency, which is under fire for allegedly targeting conservative and Tea Party groups.

Kim, who has previously blown the whistle on “gross waste of government resources” in the IRS New York field offices [Senior IRS Lawyer Charges Chief Counsel's New York Office With Waste and Abuse], wrote in her new letter that senior IRS officials have “intentionally undermined the authority of the IRS Whistleblower Office” to avoid taking action “in cases involving billions in corporate taxes due.” The IRS also refuses to enforce laws for “large corporate taxpayers,” resulting in giveaways of further billions, despite applying the same laws with “draconian strictness to small business, the self-employed, and wage-earning individuals.”  ...

Following coverage of her earlier allegations by Pulitzer Prize winning tax journalist David Cay Johnston, Kim was approached by a private sector lawyer representing corporate whistleblowers to the IRS, who told her that numerous legitimate investigations into corporate tax fraud were being shut down. Her letter sent on Sunday to the US Treasury and IRS described three such cases. ...

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October 23, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

TIGTA: IRS Fails to Follow TEFRA Procedures in 63% of Partnership Audits

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released Improvements Are Needed to Ensure That Procedures Are Followed During Partnership Audits Subject to the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (2014-30-082):

This audit was initiated to determine whether audits of partnerships subject to the TEFRA are initiated in accordance with applicable statutory and administrative procedures. ... TIGTA reviewed a statistically valid sample of 35 partnership audits subject to the TEFRA that were closed during Fiscal Year 2012 and identified 22 audits that were not conducted in accordance with one or more applicable TEFRA procedures. Specifically, TIGTA found that: (1) minimum tests were not always documented to determine whether TEFRA procedures should have been used to examine the partnership return; (2) necessary checks were not always documented to ensure that the Tax Matters Partner was qualified to represent the partnership; (3) some Forms 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, did not contain the required information that allows disclosure of tax return information; and (4) some Letters 1787, Notice of Beginning of Administrative Proceeding, were not issued timely. When the sample results are projected to the population of 2,698 TEFRA audits closed during Fiscal Year 2012, TIGTA estimates that approximately 1,696 TEFRA audits were not conducted in accordance with one or more applicable TEFRA procedures.

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October 23, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 532

IRS Logo 2Independent Journal Review:  Former Newsweek Editor Gives 4 Solid Reasons Why Women No Longer Feel Safe Under President Obama:

Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, former Newsweek editor Tina Brown said women no longer feel safe under Obama’s leadership. She gave four areas in which she feels this is the case: ...

#4 – “What they feel unsafe about is the government response to different crises and I think that they’re beginning to feel a bit that Obama’s like that guy in the corner office who’s too cool for school: calls a meeting, says this has to change, doesn’t put anything in place to make sure it does change, then it goes wrong and he’s blaming everybody.”

Yes, he has been blaming others when things have gone wrong. In particular, he’s been blaming the women around him. Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Cheryl Campbell, Lois Lerner, and Kathleen Sebelius all come to mind as women who have taken the fall for Obama.

WND:  Tina Brown Scorches Obama on Live TV:

One of the top feminists in America blasted Barack Obama’s handling of numerous crises Monday, claiming the president is actually making women feel unsafe. During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, Tina Brown, the founder and former editor of the Daily Beast and Newsweek as well as current head of Tina Brown Live Media, explained support for Democrats among women in recent polls has been plummeting because Obama is making women feel “unsafe.” ...

She continued, “More recently women felt unsafe when Lois Lerner wielded the IRS like a mighty weapon and targeted thousands of innocent civilians who were deemed ‘enemies’ of the Obama administration. No one has been held accountable and because of evidence that was ‘mysteriously’ destroyed, no one probably ever will. Women have seen innocent people punished and/or killed while criminals have been lauded.

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October 23, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 531

IRS Logo 2Barrow Journal:  Losing Faith as Dysfunction Clouds Our Institutions:

We Americans seem to have lost faith in our major institutions. All around us we see dysfunction dominating the news. To wit: ...

The IRS openly, and without apology, targeted a small number of conservative groups for special scrutiny in what can only be seen as a political move designed to silence those organizations. When called in before Congress to testify, the IRS’ chief administrator smirked and dithered, basically flicking his middle finger to Congress. His agency is above the law, he seemed to be saying. The IRS has become the stereotypical ruthless tax collector. Adding a political agenda to that only makes that powerful agency more suspect. Unfortunately, nobody seems interested in reeling in the IRS and making sure it doesn’t become a gunslinger for either political party.

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October 22, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Scorer on Florida Bar Exam Is IRS Agent

Florida International University Law School Press Release, FIU Law Student Earns Top Score on Florida Bar Exam:

MartiniFIU alumnus Alexander Martini has earned the highest score among more than 2,800 lawyers who took the Florida Bar Examination in July. ...

“I am absolutely honored and excited,” said Martini, 28, who studied law in the evening while he worked full-time as an Internal Revenue Service agent.

Martini, who was valedictorian of the evening class, was a member of the FIU Law Review, competed in the American Bar Association Section of Taxation Law Student Tax Challenge, took and passed his final Certified Public Accountant exam, [and] completed a master’s degree in taxation. ...

Martini is married to Melissa Aponte Martini, who is a recent graduate of Nova Southeastern University Law School’s evening program, and also took and passed the bar exam in July.

October 21, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 530

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial:  Defining Dismissal Down: The VA Gives Officials an Opening to Retire Before They’re Fired:

The common theme in the many failures of President Obama’s second term is government incompetence, and a corollary is lack of accountability. Both themes came together in the news late last week that the Veterans Affairs department can’t even successfully fire officials it wants to dismiss.

President Obama and Congress agreed this summer on a bill that made it easier for the VA to fire incompetent officials in return for $16 billion in additional spending to address long patient waiting lines caused by the agency’s incompetence. That looked like another case of government rewarding government failure, and now we learn that two officials targeted for dismissal as part of the VA investigation are retiring instead.

The law gave new secretary Robert McDonald the ability to fire immediately, but the VA says it gave the targeted employees a five-day period to respond so the dismissals would hold up in court. Two of the targets took the opening to retire, including Susan Taylor, the VA’s deputy chief procurement officer in Washington who was the subject of an inspector general report alleging years of misconduct for personal gain. Ms. Taylor declined to comment to a Journal query.

The VA retirees follow the example set by Lois Lerner, who retired from the IRS before she could be dismissed for her role in targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. They will all presumably suffer no reduction in federal retirement benefits.

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October 21, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 20, 2014

TIGTA: IRS Is Not Complying With Homeland Security Laws on Information Security Management and Employee ID Cards

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released:

Federal Information Security Management Act Report for Fiscal Year 2014 (2014-20-090):

The Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA) was enacted to strengthen the security of information and systems within Federal Government agencies. The IRS collects and maintains a significant amount of personal and financial information on each taxpayer. As custodians of taxpayer information, the IRS has an obligation to protect the confidentiality of this sensitive information against unauthorized access or loss.

As part of the FISMA legislation, the Offices of Inspectors General are required to perform an annual independent evaluation of each Federal agency’s information security programs and practices. This report presents the results of TIGTA’s FISMA evaluation of the IRS for Fiscal Year 2014.

Based on this year’s FISMA evaluation, five of the 11 security program areas met the performance metrics specified by the Department of Homeland Security’s Fiscal Year 2014 Inspector General Federal Information Security Management Act Reporting Metrics. ... Four security program areas were not fully effective due to one or more program attributes that were not met. ... Two security program areas did not meet the level of performance specified due to the majority of the attributes not being met.

Progress Has Been Made; However, Significant Work Re mains to Achieve Full Implementation of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 1 (2014-20-069):

Issued in August 2004, the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12), Policy for a Common Identification Standard for Federal Employees and Contractors, requires Federal agencies to issue identity credentials that meet the HSPD-12 standard and use them for gaining physical access to Federally controlled facilities and logical access to Federally controlled information systems.  Without full implementation of HSPD-12 compliant authentication, IRS facilities, networks, and information systems are at an increased risk of unauthorized access.

This audit was initiated to determine the IRS’s progress in implementing HSPD-12 requirements for accessing IRS facilities and information systems.  The U.S. Department of the Treasury has set a goal for its bureaus to achieve 100-percent HSPD-12 compliance by Fiscal Year 2015.  In Fiscal Year 2012, the Administration identified HSPD-12 as a Cross-Agency Priority initiative needed to improve the security of Federal data.

The majority of the IRS workforce (85%) has been issued HSPD-12 compliant Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards.  However, full implementation of PIV card electronic authentication for accessing IRS facilities is not scheduled until at least Fiscal Year 2018, and only if funding is available.  In addition, significant challenges remain in the area of implementing PIV card electronic authentication for accessing IRS networks and information systems.  These challenges include many legacy systems and technologies in use at the IRS that are incompatible with PIV cards, and limited HSPD-12 staffing and funding for resolving these conflicts.

October 20, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 529

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  UnFair: Exposing The IRS -- Does Not Make Strong Case Or Decent Documentary, by Peter C. Reilly:

[H]ere is my report on UnFair: Exposing the IRS.  I am reacting to both the film and the companion book, which pretty much cover the same ground in the same order. The bottom line is that Craig Bergman's argument does not make a lot of sense.

He discusses IRS abuses in the last several years and proposes that we repeal the income tax, abolish the IRS and enact the Fair Tax. A lmost all the abuses he discusses concern the qualification of organizations for exempt status. It turns out that the same issues exist under the Fair Tax.

The filmmaker I brought along did not think that it was much of a documentary. His biggest issue was that he was expecting an expose` and instead experienced a reiteration of a political and cultural platform. If this review is any indication, he is not alone in his judgement. ...

It is not an exaggeration to say that the film is seeking to make the case that the IRS is a criminal organization . The tip off is the clip of 1930s gangsters with guns. A significant portion of time is spent on Teapartygate. We get brief clips from news programs hearing from George Will, Governor Mike Huckabee, Congressman John Linder, and Bill O’Reilly among others. Craig Bergman, the narrator, then tells us that he put together a crew of talented filmakers to travel across America to talk one-on-one with those affected by the abuses. Craig starts at the Tea Party “Audit The IRS” rally, has an extensive treatment of Lois Lerner including her campaign against the Christian Coalition while working for the Federal Election Commission and moves on to an interview with Jim Jess of the Georgia Tea Party. There is a lot of network footage, most of it from Fox News. There is r eally nothing new in this part if you have been following the scandal. The treatment is entirely one sided. ...

Jonathan Schwartz did not think that UnFair cut it as a documentary. He did not even think that it was very effective propaganda.  It was more of a rally the troops type of piece that would only work on those who were already convinced of the viewpoints expressed.

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October 20, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 528

IRS Logo 2The Hollywood Reporter:  'Unfair: Exposing the IRS': Film Review:

Delivering an attack against the Internal Revenue Service is like shooting fish in a barrel. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone, whatever their political affiliation, who has anything good to say about this much-reviled government agency. So it seems a bit of a waste that Judd Saul's documentary Unfair: Exposing the IRS, shown as a one-night event in some 680 screens around the country, should have resorted to such relentless overkill.

Before your angry online comments come pouring in accusing this reviewer of being a godless, unpatriotic communist, please be advised that this is a film review, not a political tract. Any criticisms to follow are meant to address the film on cinematic terms, and in that regard it falls woefully short of being convincing to anyone who isn't already fully aligned with its impassioned message. Devoid of thoughtful analysis or divergent opinions, it's little more than agitprop … which is not to say that many of the films emanating from the other side of the political spectrum are any better. ...

Beginning with the usual barrage of inflammatory news clips, it naturally spotlights the recent uproar over the IRS' alleged targeted persecution of Tea Party organizations — President Obama is repeatedly seen denouncing it as a "phony scandal" — and the subsequent embarrassing spectacle of its leaders haplessly testifying before Congress that they had somehow managed to lose over two years' worth of relevant emails. Couple that with evidence of the agency's wild overspending, such as video clips of their bizarre comic sketches performed at lavish getaways, and it's certainly hard not to get one's dander up. ...

Featuring commentary by such usual suspects as Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann and, of course, Grover Norquist, Unfair: Exposing the IRS is not so much an expose as predictable preaching to the choir.

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October 19, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 527

IRS Logo 2American Center for Law and Justice: Finally: IRS Approves Two More Tea Party Groups:

It’s taken years, but IRS approvals are still slowly—very slowly—rolling in.

The ACLJ first sounded the alarm against the Obama Administration’s unlawful targeting of grassroots conservative groups in the spring of 2012. It was not until the following year, in May of 2013, when Lois Lerner admitted that the IRS had in fact singled out and targeted hundreds of tea party and conservative groups. Shortly afterwards, the ACLJ filed suit against the IRS on behalf of 41 groups in 22 states.

Some of those groups are still being targeted and delayed, even today.

Yet we’re still winning victories, even while the case is ongoing.

Today, two more conservative groups received approval of their tax-exempt applications. Laurens County Tea Party of Laurens, South Carolina and Allen Area Patriots from Frisco, TX, both seeking 501(c)(4) status, were just approved.

Laurens County Tea Party and Allen Area Patriots both applied for tax-exemption in July of 2010. It took the IRS more than four years to review their applications and approve these groups.

Of our 41 clients, 28 have now been approved, and seven groups are still awaiting approval. One of these seven groups, Albuquerque Tea Party is less than two months away from “celebrating” five years since they originally applied for tax-exemption. To date, they have still not been approved.

While the mainstream media gave the Administration the benefit of the doubt and ignored, if not completely dismissed the targeting as nothing more sour grapes from angry conservatives, vindication of these groups has come time and time again as the public learns more information from Congressional investigators of how wide scale this scandal really was.

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October 18, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, October 17, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 526

IRS Logo 2Statesman Journal:  Wehby Attempts to Tie Sen. Jeff Merkley to IRS Scandal:

Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby released a web video Thursday with the goal of tying Sen. Jeff Merkley to the scandal surrounding the Internal Revenue Service targeting tax-exempt groups for their political leanings.

The 35-second video entitled "Corrupt" explains that Merkley was one of several Democratic Senators who wrote a letter to the IRS in 2012 requesting the agency "immediately change the administrative framework for enforcement of the tax code as it applies to groups designated as 'social welfare' organizations." ... The ad lays that targeting of conservative groups at Merkley's feet and asks whether voters can trust him.

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October 17, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 525

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 524

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  President Obama, Audit Threats, And Rogue IRS Employees, by Robert W. Wood:

The fallout from the IRS targeting flap isn’t over. The key lost emails could be the result of bona fide, unanticipated, and irreversible computer crashes. Yet some still see finger-prints of a cover-up. It provides fodder for the online equivalent of jawing around the water-cooler. Either way, conservative groups are outraged.

More broadly, there is a general malaise about the IRS and our tax system. It is not enough for the IRS to do a good job of enforcing the tax laws in a fair and non-discriminatory way. As important, the IRS needs to be perceived as fair. If profiling is a dirty word, it should be equally dirty when the IRS does it. Truly, audit targeting is scary. ...

Don’t forget President Obama’s audit quip in 2009 in a commencement speech. The President joked about Arizona State University’s decision not to award him an honorary degree:

“I really thought this was much ado about nothing, but I do think we all learned an important lesson. I learned never again to pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA brackets. . . . President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS.”

It was an innocent remark, but some pundits didn’t see any humor. Comedians joke about such things, not Presidents, especially not with the history this charged issue has had. It would only be a few years before the ‘rogue employees’ excuse could be used about IRS targeting. In the meantime, a clever remark can go a long way.

‘Gee, I thought you wanted me to ice that guy,’ a mafia button man might say. With plausible deniability, the don might get off scot free. Presumably, though, we can’t see what Ms. Lerner told her exempt organization subordinates in Cincinnati. If there were truly rogue employees, might they have misunderstood their mission and gotten overzealous?

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October 15, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 523

IRS Logo 2Town Hall:  The White House Dogs, by Erick Erickson:

There are two dogs living in the White House other than the Obamas' pet dog. The first of the two dogs is the one that eats all the homework. It has been let loose across government agencies.

The Internal Revenue Service had an encounter with the dog. Lois Lerner, in charge of the division accused of harassing conservative groups, suddenly had her hard drive crash. All her emails were gone. Then six other employees mysteriously had their emails vanish. All seven were relevant to the congressional probe of the IRS.

The emails appear not to be on any servers. They do not seem to have been backed up, or the back ups were destroyed too. The emails have simply vanished. It is just awfully convenient that they were emails involved in a congressional probe.

Once the dog finished eating emails at the IRS, it moved over to the Environmental Protection Agency. The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a request for certain emails and text messages from or to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. According to the Washington Times last Wednesday, the EPA now says thousands of text messages related to Ms. McCarthy have simply disappeared. Her emails too are gone. The Competitive Enterprise Institute and the EPA are involved in a lawsuit, making the disappearance of the emails even more serious.

Now it is not just congressional Republicans looking at disappearing data. A federal judge is involved, too. Congressional Republicans can be dismissed far more easily than a federal judge in a black robe with a gavel.

It seems the IRS and EPA are not the only government agencies visited by this hungry dog. The Securities and Exchange Commission has lost hundreds of computers with information on them that could be used for insider trading purposes. ...

That leads us to the other dog living in the Obama White House. In "Silver Blaze," a short story about Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a prized racehorse went missing the night before a major race. Holmes, investigating the disappearance and the related death of the horse's trainer, refers "to the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime." The curious incident was that the dog did not bark. The dog at the stables made no sound as the thief stole the horse because the dog knew the thief.

The Obama administration has not barked in these cases. Internal Revenue Service emails from employees under investigation by Congress have been deleted. The Obama administration's best guess is that there was just an unfortunate coincidence of timing with an obligatory reference to "partisan witch hunts." The same holds for the EPA and now the SEC.

The Obama administration has expressed little concern, mostly taking the opportunity to blame Republicans. Government data has been deleted, and no one in the White House seems concerned. The dog is not barking. ...

The matters on which the White House dogs are willing to bark and be quiet should direct the attention of an objective press. The silence on the IRS and EPA is very telling.

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October 14, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 13, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 522

IRS Logo 2New York Observer:  Sex, Lies, and . . . White House Counsel; Ruemmler Blunders Into Secret Service Mess, by Sidney Powell:

Enter Kathryn Ruemmler, former White House Counsel, repeatedly discussed on the “short list” for Attorney General. ...

As we reported previously, not only was Ms. Ruemmler in the middle of the IRS email scandal, the Benghazi cover-up, and the most vigorous “protector” of a president while increasing government secrecy and violating the rights of others, the Post places her squarely in the middle of the cover-up of the Cartagena sex scandal for which the Secret Service and the military took the sole blame for having several prostitutes spend the night before the President arrived. ...

According to Mr. Obama, those involved in the “Hookergate” scandal were just “a couple of knuckleheads” in the Secret Service. Wait, that sounds familiar. Oh yes, the IRS targeting of conservative political groups was just “a couple of boneheads” in the Cincinnati office of the IRS, and there wasn’t a “smidgeon of corruption” in Mr. Obama’s IRS.

Anyone still buying that must have been comatose for the last several months, during which we learned of the ever increasing number of computer crashes, and that the IRS deliberately destroyed Lois Lerner’s blackberry—a fact the IRS tried to hide from federal judge Emmet G. Sullivan. These developments may have a role to play in Mr. Holder’s departure—the real reasons for which I believe are yet to surface.

Our entire government is imploding in deceit and dishonesty. The United States has become the laughingstock of the world, and the vacuum in leadership of this country is sucking the very air we breathe. Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Mr. Obama golfs while ISIS beheads. Meanwhile, Kathryn Ruemmler’s on his short list for Attorney General.

There are reasons for his “trust” in her that are obvious to him, but she “ain’t no friend of mine.”

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October 13, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 521

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Lois Lerner And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Robert W. Wood:

Lois Lerner–the former IRS official at the heart of Tea Party targeting–is retired from the IRS. Despite being held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify, she hasn’t been prosecuted. Yet after her long silence, her exclusive interview with Politico was anything but reticent and reserved. In it, Ms. Lerner said she did nothing wrong and considers herself  the victim.

Ms. Lerner bristled at any suggestion she had anything to do with destroying emails, switching to texts, letting her own liberal views influence her treatment of Tea Party a_holes, crazies. etc. Yet in a curious turn of events, journalist and Crapitalism author Jason Mattera showed up in her nice Bethesda neighborhood to pepper her with questions. They included such zingers as “Do you feel bad about turning the government into a weapon to crush political dissent?”

This time, Ms. Lerner wasn’t flanked by lawyers and facing softball questions at Politico. And who can blame her for not wanting to answer these questions. So she scurried to a neighbor’s house and started knocking on the door, begging to be admitted. Ms. Lerner’s day got worse when her neighbors seemed to, well, ‘Take the Fifth’ about letting her in. She  stood there on the porch, while Jason Mattera probes with barbs like, ‘it doesn’t feel good to be targeted does it?’

AlexanderOK, this may not be journalism’s finest hour, nor does it necessarily mean much that Ms. Lerner didn’t want to answer these questions. It may not even mean much that the neighbor has probably had enough, and didn’t want to be involved. That’s so no matter how much the neighbor may like Ms. Lerner, or her dogs for that matter.

I’m not saying that anyone wants to be hounded (excuse the pun), either. But being hounded and asked questions of this sort cannot be entirely unexpected and may not even be unfair, especially after Ms. Lerner’s exclusive interview with Politico. It all sounds a little like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, based on the book by Judith Viorst. Just like Lois Lerner’s day, from the moment Alexander wakes up, everything goes wrong. ...

Want even more terrible, horrible, no good items? How about those rogue employees in Cincinnati doing things they shouldn’t. I’ll bet all those missing emails would prove once and for all that those confused rogue Cincinnatians did all the targeting non-biased and careful review with no help from the boss. Too bad the hard drive is gone destroyed buried not available despite best efforts. Maybe Alexander had something. Maybe moving to Australia wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all?

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October 12, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 520

IRS Logo 2Forbes: Is IRS A Smidgen Corrupt? Ask Lois Lerner, NetJets, Buffett & 150 Million Taxpayers, by Robert W. Wood:

[A]ny dealings with the IRS today may be more unsettling than in the past because many have less confidence today that the system is fair and impartial. It is hard to overstate how important this is. Some of it comes back to the last 18 month who’s-on-first routine on display from the IRS.

Lois Lerner wouldn’t talk to Congress, although she is collecting a nice pension. Despite being held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify, she hasn’t been prosecuted. Maybe her refusal is constitutionally protected, maybe not. Yet after her long silence, in an exclusive interview with Politico, Ms. Lerner said she did nothing wrong and she considers herself the victim.

She bristled at any suggestion she had anything to do with destroying emails, switching to texts to avoid being traced, letting her own liberal views influence her treatment of tea party a_holes, etc. It isn’t only Ms. Lerner who comes off as above the law. IRS Commissioner Koskinen did his share of testifying about the email mess. Sadly, he somehow managed to seem arrogant, uninformed, and perhaps even a tad dismissive that his organization had any explaining to do.

The IRS and its thousands of dedicated employees deserve far better. Yet given the IRS’s current image problem, might some taxpayers feel justified in cheating on their taxes? I hope not, but I’ll bet some might think of this. Some of the public may not be able to get past the apparent stonewalling. Some of the public may wonder if they would get a pass from the IRS if their hard drive ate their tax records.

Some taxpayers may go beyond fudging their taxes and take their distrust to the courts. It already happened with True the Vote’s lawsuit against the IRS. But you can’t win without evidence. See Judge sides with IRS in search for Lerner emails. More suits could be impacted too. As noted in The Lois Lerner App, NetJets has asserted that the IRS “wiped clean a number of computer hard drives containing e-mails and other electronic documents that the government was required to produce.” ...

Will some taxpayers cheat after seeing this kind of behavior? I hope not, but some might justify it to themselves. When thousands of emails go missing from the key time period? And, when no one said anything about the emails being missing until one year into a federal investigation? Might some taxpayers cheat after seeing this kind of behavior? ...

Whatever one’s political views, politics are not supposed to matter to the IRS. Taxes and tax administration can’t be even remotely based on politics. We all need to believe that, and more generally, in the fairness of the system. One’s tolerance for coincidence should not have to be work overtime to be convinced.

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October 11, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, October 10, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 519

IRS Logo 2New York Sun:  Department of Injustice, by Conrad Black:

This brings us to the excruciating and horrifying saga of the Internal Revenue Service. It is clear, despite an administration effort to muddy the waters and strangle the congressional investigation, that the president and his party’s leaders in Congress launched a Herculean effort to bully the IRS to silence conservative organizations critical of the administration, and that the IRS, led by the head of the tax-exempt-organizations section, Lois Lerner, did its best to comply with this request. The extent of the collusion has been made difficult to fix with precision because Ms. Lerner’s hard drive disappeared and she has declined to answer congressional questions, exercising her right to avoid self-incrimination.

No one believes that her e-mails vanished accidentally, but let us note the contrast between the complacency with which the Democratic national media have assimilated this news with the hysteria that followed the revelation that Rose Mary Woods, Richard Nixon’s assistant, had lost only 18 minutes of a Watergate tape. Because of synchronized IRS non-cooperation and the likely destruction of evidence, it is hard to be sure of the extent of the contact between Democratic eminences and the national tax collector, but the existence of many meetings and e-mail exchanges has been established. (Senator Schumer had publicly urged the IRS to crack down on the “extraordinary influence” of the Tea Party and other Republican groups.) Ms. Lerner eventually took leave from her position and was accused of contempt of Congress. It is hard not to be contemptuous of the Congress, but that does not excuse refusal to answer amid the heavy suspicion of destruction of evidence.

President Obama installed John Koskinen, a “turn-around” expert from Fannie Mae, to clean up the IRS. But he has construed his role to be the obstruction of the congressional investigation, in appearances that were sanctimonious filibusters to explain the IRS’s conduct by standing on what he fancies to be his dignity and fuming with righteousness when the committee members suggested that he is not cooperating (which, of course, he isn’t). The administration’s own investigation has been a slapstick farce, largely led by Ms. Lerner’s chief associate in persecuting Republican political organizations, Jack Smith, now head of the public-integrity unit of the Justice Department. The administration is determined to kill the whole investigation, and there is little doubt that a thorough airing of the matter would show the conduct of much of the senior levels of the administration to be, to say the least, discreditable.

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October 10, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 518

IRS Logo 2Bloomberg BNA, U.S. Sidesteps NetJets' Accusations It Destroyed E-Mail Evidence in $643 Million Tax Case, by Marc Heller:

The Justice Department avoided addressing accusations from fractional aircraft ownership company NetJets that the IRS destroyed e-mail evidence sought as part of a fight over $643 million in taxes in an Oct. 6 reply brief.

NetJets had argued in a Sept. 29 motion before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio that the Internal Revenue Service was “reckless” in its destruction of hard drives that contained information being sought by the company and in violation of an order from a magistrate judge. NetJets said the proper sanctions against the government would be to deny DOJ's motion for summary judgment.

DOJ, however, dodged the issue of evidence and argued in its reply brief that changing Federal Aviation Administration regulations can't give NetJets a pass on paying federal transportation taxes on its fractional aircraft program.

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October 9, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 517

IRS Logo 2Washington Post (The Volokh Conspiracy):  Lawsuit Based on Alleged Government Targeting of Tea Party Group Organizer Can Go Forward, by Eugene Volokh (UCLA):

From Zherka v. Ryan, 2014 WL 4928956 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2014):

Plaintiff Selim Zherka filed this … action claiming that employees of the Internal Revenue Service hindered his application for tax exempt status and initiated an investigation against him as part of a broader effort to penalize members of the Tea Party for their political activities….

Beginning in 2009, plaintiff published newspaper articles and held rallies criticizing government officials for political corruption and “confiscatory tax policies.” Plaintiff organized and supported the creation of the Tea Party, a political party that received extensive publicity in the news media. At some point, plaintiff sought tax-exempt status for an organization he and others used primarily for educational purposes. However, plaintiff claims that defendant Lois Lerner …, an IRS employee, subjected his application to an inordinately high level of scrutiny, forcing him to abandon his efforts to obtain tax-exempt status. [The case against Lois Lerner was dismissed because “Plaintiff has not satisfied its burden of showing that [he] served defendant Lerner with a copy of the summons and complaint.” — EV]

Plaintiff alleges that in 2011, agent Ryan of the Federal Bureau of Investigation … and agent Ashcroft … of the IRS began an investigation into his commercial real estate dealings. Plaintiff claims these defendants issued over 75 subpoenas to his business associates, threatening them with criminal prosecution should they withhold information incriminating plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that as a result, many of these business associates terminated their relationship with him out of a fear of “running asunder of federal agencies.” He asserts that defendants’ conduct was part of a broader government strategy to penalize Tea Party members for their political speech.

Plaintiff claims to have lost business as a result of the ongoing investigation. Moreover, he claims that defendants’ actions have chilled his political activities, damaged his reputation, and caused emotional injuries….

Plaintiff alleges First Amendment retaliation …. To state a claim for First Amendment retaliation, a plaintiff must show: (1) that the speech or conduct at issue was protected, (2) that the defendant took adverse action against the plaintiff, and (3) that there was a causal connection between the protected speech and the adverse action.” …

[P]laintiff alleges that defendants intentionally targeted him for investigation because of his active membership in a new political party. The First Amended Complaint indicates that defendants initiated their broad investigation solely against plaintiff because of his political efforts, and did not pursue similar investigations against apolitical businesses and taxpayers. Plaintiff’s activities centered on advocating for a reduction in local, state, and federal tax levies. Plaintiff claims that as a result of his political activities, defendants issued over 75 subpoenas to his business associates, and contacted dozens of them individually in a search for incriminating information. Defendants’ alleged conduct appears to have significantly damaged plaintiff’s business prospects and “curtailed his public advocacy.”

Plaintiff has made a plausible showing on his First Amendment and equal protection claims. His speech, which is directed at reforming government spending, is clearly protected. He has alleged facts showing that defendants targeted him for a wide-ranging investigation because of this speech, and that he was treated differently than other taxpayers and businessmen who did not espouse anti-taxation beliefs. Thus, plaintiff has pleaded sufficient facts to state a plausible claim for relief on his First Amendment [claim] ….

Plaintiff [also] alleges that defendants’ conduct is so shocking as to amount to a violation of his substantive due process rights…. Only “the most egregious official conduct” meets this threshold.

The question of whether conduct is shocking in a constitutional sense is highly context specific. ...

Here, plaintiff alleges that he has been subjected to more than two years of investigation by defendants. He claims that defendants have threatened his business associates with criminal prosecution in order to secure their cooperation in the investigation. Moreover, he claims that defendants have inquired into his political activities and political affiliations, demonstrating a motivation to retaliate against him for his political speech. Plaintiff claims that defendants’ conduct has severely damaged his reputation and harmed his business relationships.

These allegations are disturbing and sufficiently shocking to allow plaintiff’s claim to go forward. While defendants did not subject plaintiff to forced-stomach pumping or other physical deprivations, they have allegedly investigated him for nearly two years based solely on his political message. Defendants’ alleged conduct appears to have jeopardized many if not most of plaintiff’s business relationships, causing him dramatic and permanent harm. Given plaintiff’s low burden at this stage in the litigation, he has alleged facts egregious enough to shock the conscience in a constitutional sense….

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October 8, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 516

IRS Logo 2Power Line:  Is Another Obama Administration Scandal About to Explode:

While strong cases can be made for both Benghazi and Fast and Furious, most voters consider Barack Obama’s misuse of the IRS to be his administration’s worst scandal so far. But, as we wrote last year, targeting of conservative non-profits for harassment is not the only dimension of the IRS scandal. In addition, there is strong reason to believe that one or more White House political appointees have illegally accessed private taxpayer information and used it for political gain. 

Austan Goolsbee directed Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board and later chaired his Council of Economic Advisers. In August 2010, Goolsbee conducted a telephone press briefing in which, according to the Washington Post, he purported to reveal confidential taxpayer information:

So in this country we have partnerships, we have S corps, we have LLCs, we have a series of entities that do not pay corporate income tax. Some of which are really giant firms, you know Koch Industries is a multibillion dollar businesses. So that creates a narrower base because we’ve literally got something like 50 percent of the business income in the U.S. is going to businesses that don’t pay any corporate income tax.

There are three possibilities here: either Goolsbee just made up the claim that Koch Industries doesn’t pay corporate income taxes; or he learned Koch’s tax status from some proper, legal source; or else he illegally accessed Koch’s tax returns and used the information he learned for political purposes in a call with reporters. ...

The wheels of justice, as they say, grind slowly. As with other Obama administration scandals, Barack’s effort is to run out the clock. It may be that by the time we learn the full extent of the Obama administration’s lawlessness, the administration will be over. But the remaining options are not good: either Austan Goolsbee, a senior adviser to Obama, made up a smear of Koch Industries out of whole cloth, or else Obama’s IRS allowed the White House illegal access to confidential taxpayer data for political purposes. That’s a crime for which at least two people should go to jail.

[I]t is likely that members of the Obama administration committed federal crimes by illegally sharing confidential taxpayer information with the White House for political purposes. With luck, we will find out for sure before our next president is inaugurated. The alternative is that a high-ranking White House official fabricated a baseless smear against the administration’s political opponents and passed it on to reporters to further the administration’s political agenda. Any way you look at it, this is a shameful episode in the already bleak history of the Obama administration.

Forbes, TIGTA Must Disclose More About Investigation Of Possible IRS Release Of Koch Industries Return Information, by Peter J. Reilly:

TIGTA has publicly acknowledged that it investigated whether Mr. Goosbee’s statement was based on improper disclosure by the IRS. There seems to be a good chance that it was a pretty easy investigation seeing as how it is extremely likely that Goosbee was flat out wrong in his speculation that KI was an S corporation. Taking that as the scenario, how can TIGTA then explain the results of the investigation without disclosing the very thing that was not supposed to be disclosed? Koch Industries’s status as either a C or an S Corporation.

Cause of Action still argued that TIGTA needed to be more forthcoming not only about its investigation of the Goosbee matter but also whether any of its other investigations of improper disclosure involve the White House. Mr. Epstein indicated that you might be able to connect the dots to the Tea Party scandal, if you could find out whether TIGTA is investigating breaches of taxpayer confidentiality involving the White House and applications for not for profit status. Using the very statute that is meant to protect taxpayers against breaches of confidentiality to protect the breachers does appeal to my inner villain as a masterful stroke, so I think Cause of Action has a point.

More important than my opinion is that of Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who was nominated by President Obama to serve on United States District Court for the District of Columbia, shortly before Mr. Goosbee’s unfortunate remark. Judge Jackson ruled that TIGTA should disclose more:

The Court finds that the fact of the existence of any records within the category of records that plaintiff seeks is not confidential “return information” under section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code, and so defendant’s Glomar response is not supported by FOIA Exemption 3. Furthermore, although the existence of some records might be a fact protected by FOIA Exemption 7(C), the Court finds that defendant has waived reliance on both Exemption 7(C) and Exemption 6 by officially acknowledging its investigation into questions raised by the public statements of a particular administration official, and by failing to offer any other basis that would support a Glomar response on those grounds. Therefore, defendant’s motion for summary judgment will be denied, and plaintiff’s cross-motion for summary judgment will be granted. The Court will remand the case to the agency for further action consistent with this opinion. A separate order will issue.

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October 7, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)